Home favorite Kevin Anderson was forced to dig deep for his first ATP World Tour title as he battled back from a first-set deficit to beat Somdev Devvarman of India 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the SA Tennis Open final at Montecasino on Sunday.
Fourth-seeded Anderson broke twice in the decider and clinched victory on his first match point for his maiden title, fighting back from a set down for the third time this week at his home tournament in Johannesburg.
Anderson, 24, won in 2 hours, 19 minutes when Devvarman pulled a backhand wide and is the first South African to win a top-tier ATP tournament since Wesley Moodie triumphed in Tokyo in 2005.
"There are so many emotions running around right now," Anderson said. "I'm just really thrilled and to win it here in South Africa, there's no better feeling."
Anderson served 11 aces to Devvarman's seven, overcoming a slow start to wrestle back the advantage.
He improved his tour record over Devvarman - who was also seeking a first ATP title - to 2-0. He converted four of 10 break points. Devvarman had two breaks but finally fell to a home player after beating three South Africans in his run to the final.
Devvarman had made a stronger start in the match, which was a second ATP final for both players.
He put the big-serving, 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) tall Anderson under pressure with angled forehands from the baseline and aggressive returns of serve and broke for an early 2-1 lead.
The Indian's early momentum was temporarily curtailed by two rain breaks in the first set and Anderson sent a whipped forehand winner past his opponent to break back for 3-3.
But Devvarman replied immediately with a second break and served out the opener 6-3.
The Johannesburg-born Anderson found his range in the second, serving strongly to level the match after a single break in the sixth game.
The South African No. 1 then opened a lead when he broke Devvarman's serve to love for 3-2 in the decider and saved three break points in the next game for a crucial hold.
He sent a forehand return cross court for another break in the seventh game, and clinched victory on his first opportunity when Devvarman's double-handed backhand looped wide.
Anderson is the first home winner at the South African Open since 1989.